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Claiming disability benefits with fibromyalgia

You may already know how difficult it is to get approval for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration denies more first-time applications than it accepts, and the more complicated or difficult your condition may be for a doctor to diagnose, the more likely you are to face a frustrating appeals process.

With a condition like fibromyalgia, you may feel as though the odds are stacked against you. Not only is FM an invisible disease, its symptoms are often inconsistent. Furthermore, FM is self-reporting, meaning there is no test that can definitively identify the condition. The SSA is understandably suspicious of self-reported diseases. With these factors working against you, you may benefit from as much assistance and advocacy as you can find.

SSA disability factors

The most important element the SSA looks for in a disabling condition is that it prevents you from working to earn a living. The symptoms you suffer must be so severe that they interfere with your ability to do your duties on the job as well as perform many of your daily routine tasks. The SSA demands that you show proof that other conditions with similar symptoms have been eliminated from your doctor's consideration and that your symptoms have been debilitating for three months or longer.

Some of the symptoms of FM include:

  • Fatigue that sleep doesn't restore
  • Episodes of anxiety, depression or both
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Pain

Your pain may be aching, radiating, shooting or tenderness in several of 18 identified points on your body. Part of your disability application will include documentation of pain in at least 11 of these points on both sides of your body.

Proving your disability

Documentation is your friend. You cannot underestimate the importance of keeping detailed and diligent records about your symptoms and how they interfere with your normal life. You may do this by journaling your experiences. Other critical documentation will include:

  • Appointments with every doctor, specialist and hospital visit you have had regarding your fibromyalgia
  • All relevant medical records, test results, medications and therapy sessions
  • Efforts with alternative methods of treatment such as acupuncture or herbal therapy
  • Your physician's completed Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for your condition
  • An explanation of your work duties and any previous jobs you may have had

The more details you can provide, the more powerful your application will be. Relating your pain and suffering to the loss of income will be vital. You may find it advantageous to obtain statements from your Georgia employer and colleagues who will verify that the symptoms of fibromyalgia prevented you from performing your job. You may also find that having legal counsel from the beginning of the application process may help you avoid errors that may delay or jeopardize your chances of a successful outcome.

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